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Energy Storage: Battery

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Chapter 06

ENERGY STORAGE: BATTERY

06.1 Introduction
To properly select batteries for use in Standalone PV systems, it is important that system designers have a good understanding of their design features, performance characteristics and operational requirements. The information in the following sections is intended as a review of basic battery characteristics and terminology as is commonly used in the design and application of batteries in PV systems. Batteries in PV Systems

06.2 Battery Design and Construction


Battery manufacturing is an intensive, heavy industrial process involving the use of hazardous and toxic materials. Batteries are generally mass produced, combining several sequential and parallel processes to construct a complete battery unit. After production, initial charge and discharge cycles are conducted on batteries before they are shipped to distributors and consumers. Manufacturers have variations in the details of their battery construction, but some common construction features can be described for most all batteries. Some important components of battery construction are described below [16]:

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Energy Storage Capacity and Autonomy: To store electrical energy when it is produced by the PV array and to supply energy to electrical loads as needed or on demand. Voltage and Current Stabilization: To supply power to electrical loads at stable voltages and currents, by suppressing or 'smoothing out' transients that may occur in PV systems. Supply Surge Currents: To supply surge or high peak operating currents to electrical loads or appliances.

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In Standalone photovoltaic systems, the electrical energy produced by the PV array cannot always be used when it is produced. Because the demand for energy does not always coincide with its production, electrical storage batteries are commonly used in PV systems. The primary functions of a storage battery in a PV system are to:

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Energy Storage: Battery i. Cell

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The cell is the basic electrochemical unit in a battery, consisting of a set of positive and negative plates divided by separators, immersed in an electrolyte solution and enclosed in a case. In a typical Lead-Acid battery, each cell has a nominal voltage of about 2.1 volts, so there are 6 series cells in a nominal 12 volt battery. Figure 32 shows a diagram of a basic Lead-Acid battery cell. ii. Active Material

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Figure 32: Battery Cell Composition [16] iii. Electrolyte The electrolyte is a conducting medium which allows the flow of current through ionic transfer, or the transfer of electrons between the plates in a battery. In a Lead-Acid battery, the electrolyte is a diluted Sulfuric Acid solution, either in liquid (flooded) form, gelled or absorbed in glass mats. In flooded Nickel-Cadmium cells, the electrolyte
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The active materials in a battery are the raw composition materials that form the positive and negative plates, and are reactants in the electrochemical cell. The amount of active material in a battery is proportional to the capacity a battery can deliver. In Lead-Acid batteries, the active materials are Lead Di-Oxide (PbO2) in the positive plates and metallic sponge Lead (Pb) in the negative plates, which react with a Sulfuric Acid (H2SO4 ) solution during battery operation.

Energy Storage: Battery is an alkaline solution of Potassium Hydroxide and water. In most flooded battery types, periodic water additions are required to replenish the electrolyte lost through gassing. When adding water to batteries, it is very important to use distilled or de-mineralized water, as even the impurities in normal tap water can poison the battery and result in premature failure. iv. Grid

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vi.

Separator

A separator is a porous, insulating divider between the positive and negative plates in a battery, used to keep the plates from coming into electrical contact and short-circuiting, and which also allows the flow of electrolyte and ions between the positive and negative plates. Separators are made from micro porous rubber, plastic or glass-wool mats. In some cases, the separators may be like an envelope, enclosing the entire plate and preventing shed materials from creating short circuits at the bottom of the plates.

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A plate is a basic battery component, consisting of a grid and active material, sometimes called an electrode. There are generally a number of positive and negative plates in each battery cell, typically connected in parallel at a bus bar or inter-cell connector at the top of the plates. A pasted plate is manufactured by applying a mixture of Lead Oxide, Sulfuric Acid, fibers and water on to the grid. The thickness of the grid and plate affect the deep cycle performance of a battery. In automotive starting or SLI type batteries, many thin plates are used per cell. This results in maximum surface area for delivering high currents, but not much thickness and mechanical durability for deep and prolonged discharges. Thick plates are used for deep cycling applications such as for forklifts, golf carts and other electric vehicles. The thick plates permit deep discharges over long periods, while maintaining good adhesion of the active material to the grid, resulting in longer life.

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v.

Plate

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In a Lead-Acid battery, the grid is typically a Lead alloy framework that supports the active material on a battery plate, and which also conducts current. Alloying elements such as Antimony and Calcium are often used to strengthen the Lead grids, and have characteristic effects on battery performance such as cycle performance and gassing. Some grids are made by expanding a thin Lead alloy sheet into a flat plate web, while others are made of long spines of Lead with the active material plated around them forming tubes, or what are referred to as tubular plates.

Energy Storage: Battery vii. Element

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In element is defined as a stack of positive and negative plate groups and separators, assembled together with plate straps interconnecting the positive and negative plates. viii. Terminal Posts

ix.

Cell Vents

x.

Case

Commonly made from a hard rubber or plastic, the case contains the plates, separators and electrolyte in a battery. The case is typically enclosed, with the exception of intercell connectors which attach the plate assembly from one cell to the next, terminal posts, and vents or caps which allow gassing products to escape and to permit water additions if required. Clear battery cases or containers allow for easy monitoring of electrolyte levels and battery plate condition. For very large or tall batteries, plastic cases are often supported with an external metal or rigid plastic casing.

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Flame arrestor vent caps are commonly supplied component on larger, industrial battery systems. The venting occurs through a charcoal filter, designed to contain a cell explosion to one cell, minimizing the potential for a catastrophic explosion of the entire battery bank.

During battery charging, gasses are produced within a battery that may be vented to the atmosphere. In flooded designs, the loss of electrolyte through gas escape from the cell vents it a normal occurrence, and requires the periodic addition of water to maintain proper electrolyte levels. In sealed or valve-regulated batteries, the vents are designed with a pressure relief mechanism, remaining closed under normal conditions, but opening during higher than normal battery pressures, often the result of overcharging or high temperature operation. Each cell of a complete battery unit has some type of cell vent.

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Terminal posts are the external positive and negative electrical connections to a battery. A battery is connected in a PV system and to electrical loads at the terminal posts. In a Lead-Acid battery the posts are generally Lead or a Lead alloy, or possibly stainless steel or Copper-Plated steel for greater corrosion resistance. Battery terminals may require periodic cleaning, particularly for flooded designs. It is also recommended that the clamps or connections to battery terminals be secured occasionally as they may loosen over time.

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06.3 Battery Types and Classifications


Many types and classifications of batteries are manufactured today, each with specific design and performance characteristics suited for particular applications. Each battery type or design has its individual strengths and weaknesses. In PV systems, Lead-Acid batteries are most common due to their wide availability in many sizes, low cost and well understood performance characteristics. In a few critical, low temperature applications Nickel-Cadmium cells are used, but their high initial cost limits their use in most PV systems. There is no perfect battery and it is the task of the PV system designer to decide which battery type is most appropriate for each application. In general, electrical storage batteries can be divided into two major categories, primary and secondary batteries [16]. Primary Batteries

Secondary Batteries

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A secondary battery can store and deliver electrical energy, and can also be recharged by passing a current through it in an opposite direction to the discharge current. Common Lead-Acid batteries used in automobiles and PV systems are secondary batteries. Table 1 lists common secondary battery types and their characteristics which are of importance to PV system designers. A detailed discussion of each battery type follows.

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Primary batteries can store and deliver electrical energy, but cannot be recharged. Typical Carbon-Zinc and Lithium batteries commonly used in consumer electronic devices are primary batteries. Primary batteries are not used in PV systems because they cannot be recharged.

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Energy Storage: Battery Table 6: Secondary Battery types and Characteristics [16] Battery Type Cost Deep Cycle Performance Maintenanc e

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Flooded Lead-Acid Lead-Antimony Lead-Calcium Open Vent Lead-Calcium Sealed Vent Lead Antimony/Calcium Hybrid Captive Electrolyte Lead-Acid (VRLA) Gelled Absorbed Glass Mat Nickel-Cadmium Sintered-Plate Pocket-Plate High High Low Low Low Medium Medium Medium Good Poor Poor Good Fair Fair High Medium Low Medium Low Low None Medium

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06.4 Lead-Acid Batteries

i.

Lead-Antimony Batteries

Lead-Antimony batteries are a type of Lead-Acid battery which uses Antimony (Sb) as the primary alloying element with Lead in the plate grids. The use of Lead-Antimony alloys in the grids has both advantages and disadvantages. Advantages include providing greater mechanical strength than pure Lead grids, and excellent deep discharge and high discharge rate performance. Lead-Antimony grids also limit the shedding of active material and have better lifetime than Lead-Calcium batteries when operated at higher temperatures. ii. Lead-Calcium Batteries

Lead-Calcium batteries are a type of Lead-Acid battery which uses Calcium (Ca) as the primary alloying element with Lead in the plate grids. Like Lead-Antimony, the use of Lead-Calcium alloys in the grids has both advantages and disadvantages. Advantages include providing greater mechanical strength than pure Lead grids, a low self-

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There are several types of Lead-Acid batteries manufactured. The following sections describe the types of Lead-Acid batteries commonly used in PV systems [16].

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Good Good

Energy Storage: Battery discharge rate, and reduced gassing resulting in lower water loss and lower maintenance requirements than for Lead-Antimony batteries. Disadvantages of LeadCalcium batteries include poor charge acceptance after deep discharges and shortened battery life at higher operating temperatures and if discharged to greater than 25% depth of discharge repeatedly. iii. Flooded Lead-Calcium, Open Vent

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iv.

Flooded Lead-Calcium, Sealed Vent

Primarily developed as 'maintenance free' automotive starting batteries, the capacity for these batteries is typically in the range of 50 to 120 ampere-hours, in a nominal 12 volt unit. Like all Lead-Calcium designs, they are intolerant of overcharging, high operating temperatures and deep discharge cycles. They are maintenance free in the sense that you do not add water, but they are also limited by the fact that you cannot add water which generally limits their useful life. This battery design incorporates sufficient reserve electrolyte to operate over its typical service life without water additions. These batteries are often employed in small Standalone PV systems such as in rural homes and lighting systems, but must be carefully charged to achieve maximum performance and life. While they are low cost, they are really designed for shallow cycling, and will generally have a short life in most PV applications. An example of this type of battery that is widely produced throughout the world is the Delco 2000. It is relatively low cost and suitable for unsophisticated users that might not properly maintain their battery water level. However, it is really a modified SLI battery, with many thin plates, and will only provide a couple years of useful service in most PV systems v. Lead-Antimony/Lead-Calcium Hybrid

These are typically flooded batteries, with capacity ratings of over 200 ampere-hours. A common design for this battery type uses Lead-Calcium tubular positive electrodes and pasted Lead-Antimony negative plates. This design combines the advantages of both Lead-Calcium and Lead-Antimony design, including good deep cycle performance, low water loss and long life. Stratification and sulfation can also be a problem with these

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Often classified as stationary batteries, these batteries are typically supplied as individual 2 volt cells incapacity ranges up to and over 1000 ampere-hours. Flooded Lead-Calcium batteries have the advantages of low self discharge and low water loss, and may last as long as 20 years in stand-by or float service. In PV applications, these batteries usually experience short lifetimes due to sulfation and stratification of the electrolyte unless they are charged properly.

Energy Storage: Battery batteries, and must be treated accordingly. These batteries are sometimes used in PV systems with larger capacity and deep cycle requirements.

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06.5 Nickel-Cadmium Batteries


Nickel-Cadmium (Ni-Cad) batteries are secondary or rechargeable batteries, and have several advantages over Lead-Acid batteries that make them attractive for use in Standalone PV systems. These advantages include long life, low maintenance, and survivability from excessive discharges, excellent low temperature capacity retention, and non-critical voltage regulation requirements. The main disadvantages of NickelCadmium batteries are their high cost and limited availability compared to Lead-Acid designs. A typical Nickel-Cadmium cell consists of positive electrodes made from NickelHydroxide (NiO(OH)) and negative electrodes made from cadmium (Cd) and immersed in an alkaline Potassium Hydroxide (KOH) electrolyte solution. When a Nickel-Cadmium cell is discharged, the Nickel Hydroxide changes form (Ni (OH)2 ) and the Cadmium becomes Cadmium Hydroxide (Cd(OH)2 ). The concentration of the electrolyte does not change during the reaction so the freezing point stays very low.

06.6 Battery Strengths and Weaknesses

Again, no one type of battery is ideal for a PV system application. The designer must consider the advantages and disadvantages of different batteries with respect to the requirements of a particular application. Some of the considerations include lifetime, deep cycle performance, tolerance to high temperatures and overcharge, maintenance and many others. Table summarizes some of the key characteristics of the different battery types discussed in the preceding section.

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Each battery type has design and performance features suited for particular applications.

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Energy Storage: Battery Table 7 Battery Characteristics [16] Battery Type Flooded Lead-Acid Lead-Antimony Low cost, wide availability, good deep cycle and high temperature performance, can replenish electrolyte. Low cost, wide availability, low water loss, can replenish electrolyte. Low cost, wide availability, low water loss. High water loss and maintenance. Advantages Disadvantages

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Lead-Calcium Open Vent

Lead-Calcium Sealed Vent

Lead Antimony/Calcium Hybrid Captive Electrolyte LeadAcid Gelled

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Medium cost, low water loss.

Absorbed Glass Mat

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Nickel-Cadmium Sealed Sintered-Plate

Medium cost, little or no maintenance, less susceptible to freezing, install in any orientation. Medium cost, little or no maintenance, less susceptible to freezing, install in any orientation.

Wide availability, excellent low and high temperature performance, maintenance free.

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Poor deep cycle performance, intolerant to high temperatures and overcharge. Poor deep cycle performance, intolerant to high temperatures and overcharge, cannot replenish electrolyte. Limited availability, potential for stratification.

Fair deep cycle performance, intolerant to overcharge and high temperatures, limited availability. Fair deep cycle performance, intolerant to overcharge and high temperatures, limited availability. Only available in low capacities, high cost, suffer from memory effect.

Energy Storage: Battery Flooded Pocket-Plate Excellent deep cycle and low and high temperature performance, tolerance to overcharge. Limited availability, high cost, water additions required.

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Battery Type Advantages Disadvantage

06.7 Battery Charging


Methods and procedures for battery charging vary considerably. In a Standalone PV system, the ways in which a battery is charged are generally much different from the charging methods battery manufacturers use to rate battery performance. The various methods and considerations for battery charging in PV systems are discussed in the next section on battery charge controllers. Battery manufacturers often refer to three modes of battery charging; normal or bulk charge, finishing or float charge and equalizing charge. i. Bulk or Normal Charge

Bulk or normal charging is the initial portion of a charging cycle, performed at any charge rate which does not cause the cell voltage to exceed the gassing voltage. Bulk charging generally occurs up to between 80 and 90% state of charge. ii. Float or Finishing Charge

iii.

Equalizing Charge

An equalizing or refreshing charge is used periodically to maintain consistency among individual cells. An equalizing charge generally consists of a current-limited charge to higher voltage limits than set for the finishing or float charge. For batteries deep discharged on a daily basis, an equalizing charge is recommended every one or two weeks. For batteries less severely discharged, equalizing may only be required every one or two months. An equalizing charge is typically maintained until the cell voltages and specific gravities remain consistent for a few hours.

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Once a battery is nearly fully charged, most of the active material in the battery has been converted to its original form, and voltage and or current regulation are generally required to limit the amount over overcharge supplied to the battery. Finish charging is usually conducted at low to medium charge rates.

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Energy Storage: Battery

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06.8 Battery Discharging


i. Depth of Discharge (DOD):

The depth of discharge (DOD) of a battery is defined as the percentage of capacity that has been withdrawn from a battery compared to the total fully charged capacity. By definition, the depth of discharge and state of charge of a battery add to 100 percent. The two common qualifiers for depth of discharge in PV systems are the allowable or maximum DOD and the average daily DOD and are described as follows: a) Allowable DOD The maximum percentage of full-rated capacity that can be withdrawn from a battery is known as its allowable depth of discharge. The allowable DOD is the maximum discharge limit for a battery, generally dictated by the cut off voltage and discharge rate. In standalone PV systems, the low voltage load disconnect (LVD) set point of the battery charge controller dictates the allowable DOD limit at a given discharge rate. Furthermore, the allowable DOD is generally a seasonal deficit, resulting from low insulation, low temperatures and/or excessive load usage. Depending on the type of battery used in a PV system, the design allowable depth of discharge may be as high as 80% for deep cycle, motive power batteries, to as low as 15-25% if SLI batteries are used [16]. The allowable DOD is related to the autonomy, in terms of the capacity required to operate the system loads for a given number of days without energy from the PV array. A system design with a lower allowable DOD will result in a shorter autonomy period. As discussed earlier, if the internal temperature of a battery reaches the freezing point of the electrolyte, the electrolyte can freeze and expand, causing irreversible damage to the battery. In a fully charged Lead-Acid battery, the electrolyte is approximately 35% by weight and the freezing point is quite low (approximately -60C). As a Lead-Acid battery is discharged, the becomes diluted, so the concentration of acid decreases and the concentration of water increases as the freezing point approaches the freezing point of water, 0C. b) Average Daily DOD The average daily depth of discharge is the percentage of the full-rated capacity that is withdrawn from a battery with the average daily load profile. If the load varies seasonally, for example in a PV lighting system, the average daily DOD will be greater in the winter months due to the longer nightly load operation period. For PV systems with a constant daily load, the average daily DOD is generally greater in the winter due to lower battery temperature and lower rated capacity. Depending on the rated capacity and the average daily load energy, the average daily DOD may vary between only a few percent in systems designed with a lot of autonomy, or as high as 50 percent for marginally sized battery systems [16]. The average daily DOD is inversely related to

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Energy Storage: Battery autonomy; meaning that systems designed for longer autonomy periods (more capacity) have a lower average daily DOD. ii. State of Charge (SOC)

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The state of charge (SOC) is defined as the amount of energy in a battery, expressed as a percentage of the energy stored in a fully charged battery. Discharging a battery results in a decrease in state of charge, while charging results in an increase in state of charge. A battery that has had three quarters of its capacity removed, or been discharged 75 percent, is said to be at 25 percent state of charge. Figure 33 shows the seasonal variation in battery state of charge and depth of discharge. iii. Autonomy

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Figure 33: Battery State of Charge
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Generally expressed as the days of storage in a Standalone PV system, autonomy refers to the time a fully charged battery can supply energy to the systems loads when there is no energy supplied by the PV array. For common, less critical PV applications autonomy periods are typically between two and six days. For critical applications involving an essential load or public safety, or where weather patterns dictate, autonomy periods may be greater than ten days. Longer autonomy periods generally result in a lower average daily DOD and lower the probability that the allowable (maximum) DOD or minimum load voltage is reached.

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Energy Storage: Battery iv. Self Discharge Rate

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In open-circuit mode without any charge or discharge current, a battery undergoes a reduction in state of charge, due to internal mechanisms and losses within the battery. Different battery types have different self discharge rates, the most significant factor being the active materials and grid alloying elements used in the design. Higher temperatures result in higher discharge rates particularly for Lead-Antimony designs as shown in Figure 34.

Battery lifetime is dependent upon a number of design and operational factors, including the components and materials of battery construction, temperature, frequency and depth of discharges, average state of charge and charging methods. As long as a battery is not overcharged, over discharged or operated at excessive temperatures, the lifetime of a battery is proportionate to its average state of charge. A typical flooded Lead-Acid battery that is maintained above 90 percent state of charge will provide two to three times more full charge/discharge cycles than a battery allowed to reach 50 percent state of charge before recharging [16]. This suggests limiting the allowable and average daily DOD to prolong battery life. Lifetime can be expressed in terms of cycles or years, depending upon the particular type of battery and its intended application. Exact quantification of battery life is difficult due to the number of variables involved, and generally requires battery test results under similar operating

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iv.

Battery Lifetime

Figure 34: Battery Self Discharge

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Energy Storage: Battery conditions. Battery manufacturers often do not rate battery performance under the conditions of charge and discharge experienced in PV systems. v. Temperature Effects

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vi.

Effects of Discharge Rates

The higher the discharge rate or current, the lower the capacity that can be withdrawn from a battery to a specific allowable DOD or cut off voltage. Higher discharge rates also result in the voltage under load to be lower than with lower discharge rates, sometimes affecting the selection of the low voltage load disconnects set point. At the same battery voltage the lower the discharge rates, the lower the battery state of charge compared to higher discharge rates.
[

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Figure 35: Temperature Effects on Battery Life

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For an electrochemical cell such as a battery, temperature has important effects on performance. Generally, as the temperature increases by 100C the rate of an electrochemical reaction doubles, resulting in statements from battery manufacturers that battery life decreases by a factor of two for every 10C increase in average operating temperature. Higher operating temperatures accelerate corrosion of the positive plate grids, resulting in greater gassing and electrolyte loss. Lower operating temperatures generally increase battery life. However, the capacity is reduced significantly at lower temperatures, particularly for Lead-Acid batteries. When severe temperature variations from room temperatures exist, batteries are located in an insulated or other temperature regulated enclosure to minimize battery temperature swings.

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06.9 Battery Sub-System Design


Once a particular type of battery has been selected, the designer must consider how best to configure and maintain the battery for optimal performance. Considerations in battery subsystem design include the number of batteries is series and parallel, overcurrent and disconnect requirements, and selection of the proper wire sizes and types. Connecting Batteries in Series Batteries connected in a series circuit have only one path for the current to flow. Batteries are arranged in series by connecting the negative terminal of the first battery to the positive terminal of the second battery, the negative of the second battery to the positive of the third battery, and so on for as many batteries or cells in the series string. For similar batteries connected in series, the total voltage is the sum of the individual battery voltages, and the total capacity is the same as for one battery. If batteries or cells with different capacities are connected in series, the capacity of the string is limited to the lower battery capacity. Figure-36 illustrates the series connection of two similar batteries.

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Figure 36: Series Connected Batteries Connecting Batteries in Parallel Batteries connected in parallel have more than one path for current to flow, depending on the number of parallel branches. Batteries (or series strings of batteries or cells) are arranged in parallel by connecting all of the positive terminals to one conductor and all of the negative terminals to another conductor. For similar batteries connected in parallel, the voltage across the entire circuit is the same as the voltage across the
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Energy Storage: Battery individual parallel branches, and the overall capacity is sum of the parallel branch capacities. Figure 37 illustrates the parallel connection of two similar batteries.

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Figure 37: Parallel Connected Batteries

In general, battery manufacturers recommend that their batteries be operated in as few parallel strings as possible. If too many parallel connections are made in a battery bank, slight voltage differences between the parallel strings will occur due to the length, resistance and integrity of the connections. The result of these voltage differences can lead to inconsistencies in the treatment received by each battery (cell) in the bank, potentially causing unequal capacities within the bank. The parallel strings with the lowest circuit resistance to the charging source will generally be exercised to a greater extent than the parallel groups of batteries with greater circuit resistance to the charging source. The batteries in parallel strings which receive less charge may begin to Sulfate prematurely. The battery capacity requirements and the size and voltage of the battery selected dictate the series and parallel connections required for a given PV application. For PV systems with larger capacity requirements, larger cells, generally in nominal 2-volt cells for Lead-Acid, may allow the batteries to be configured in one series string rather than in several parallel strings. When batteries must be configured in parallel, the external

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Series vs. Parallel Battery Connections

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Energy Storage: Battery connection between the battery bank and the PV power system should be made from the positive and negative terminals on opposite sides of the battery bank to improve the equalization of charge and discharge from the bank.

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The ability to measure and diagnose battery performance is an invaluable aid to users and operators of Standalone PV systems. Following are two of the more common instruments used to test batteries. i. Hydrometer

A hydrometer is an instrument used to measure the specific gravity of a solution, or the ratio of the solution density to the density of water. While the specific gravity of the electrolyte can be estimated from open circuit voltage readings, a hydrometer provides a much more accurate measure. As discussed previously, the specific gravity of the electrolyte is related to the battery state of charge in Lead-Acid batteries. Hydrometers may be constructed with a float ball using Archimedes' principle, or with a prism measuring the refractive index of the solution to determine specific gravity. In an

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06.10 Battery Test Equipment

Figure 38: Parallel Connections

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Energy Storage: Battery Archimedes hydrometer, a bulb-type syringe extracts electrolyte from the battery cell. When the bulb is filled with electrolyte, a precision glass float in the bulb is subjected to a buoyant force equivalent to the weight of the electrolyte displaced. Graduations are marked on the sides of the glass float, calibrated to read specific gravity directly. Hydrometer floats are only calibrated to give true readings at a specific temperature, typically 26.7C (80F). When measurements are taken from electrolyte at other temperatures, a correction factor must be applied. Regardless of the reference temperature of the hydrometer, a standard correction factor 0.004 specific gravity units, often referred to as points, must be applied for every 5.5C (10F) change from the reference temperature. Four points of specific gravity (0.004) are added to the hydrometer reading for every 5.5C (10F) increment above the reference temperature and four points are subtracted for every 5.5C (10F) increment below the reference temperature [16]. When taking specific gravity measurements of batteries at temperatures significantly lower or higher than standard room temperatures, it is important that the temperature of the electrolyte be accurately measured to make the necessary corrections. When making specific gravity readings, the variations between cells are as important as the overall average of the readings.

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06.11 Battery Safety Consideration


Due to the hazardous materials and chemicals involved, and the amount of electrical energy which they store, batteries are potentially dangerous and must be handled and used with caution. Typical batteries used in Standalone PV systems can deliver up to several thousand amps under short-circuit conditions, requiring special precautions. Depending on the size and location of a battery installation, certain safety precautions are be required. i Handling Electrolyte

The caustic Sulfuric Acid solution contained in Lead-Acid batteries can destroy clothing and burn the skin. For these reasons, protective clothing such as aprons and face shields should be worn by personnel working with batteries. To neutralize Sulfuric Acid spills or splashes on clothing, the spill should be rinsed immediately with a solution of baking soda or household ammonia and water. For Nickel-Cadmium batteries, the Potassium

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A battery load tester is an instrument which draws current from a battery with an electrical load, while recording the voltage, usually done at high discharge rates for short periods. Although not designed to measure capacity, a load test may be used to determine the general health or consistency among batteries in a system. Load test data are generally expressed as a discharge current over a specific time period.

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ii.

Load Tester

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Energy Storage: Battery Hydroxide electrolyte can be neutralized with a vinegar and water solution. If electrolyte is accidentally splashed in the eyes, the eyes should be forced open and flooded with cool clean water for fifteen minutes. If acid electrolyte is taken internally, drink large quantities of water or milk, followed by milk of magnesia, beaten eggs or vegetable oil. Call a physician immediately. If it is required that the electrolyte solution be prepared from concentrated acid and water, the acid should be poured slowly into the water while mixing. The water should never be poured into the acid. Appropriate nonmetallic funnels and containers should be used when mixing and transferring electrolyte solutions. ii Personnel Protection

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iii

Dangers of Explosion

During operation, batteries may produce explosive mixtures of hydrogen and oxygen gasses. Keep spark, flames, burning cigarettes, or other ignition sources away from batteries at all times. Explosive gasses may be present for several hours after a battery has been charged. Active or passive ventilation techniques are suggested and often required, depending on the number of batteries located in an enclosure and their gassing characteristics. The use of battery vent caps with a flame arrester feature lowers the possibility of a catastrophic battery explosion. Improper charging and excessive overcharging may increase the possibility of battery explosions. When making and breaking connections to a battery from a charging source or electrical load, ensure that the charger or load is switched off as to not create sparks or arcing during the connection.

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Jewelry on the hands and wrists should be removed, and properly insulated tools should be used to protect against inadvertent battery short-circuits.

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When performing battery maintenance, personnel should wear protective clothing such as aprons, ventilation masks, goggles or face shields and gloves to protect from acid spills or splashes and fumes. If Sulfuric Acid comes into contact with skin or clothing, immediately flush the area with a solution of baking soda or ammonia and water. Safety showers and eye washes may be required where batteries are located in close access to personnel. As a good practice, some type of fire extinguisher should be located in close proximity to the battery area if possible. In some critical applications, automated fire sprinkler systems may be required to protect facilities and expensive load equipment.

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Energy Storage: Battery iv Battery Disposal and Recycling

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Batteries are considered hazardous items as they contain toxic materials such as Lead, acids and plastics which can harm humans and the environment. For this reason, laws have been established which dictate the requirements for battery disposal and recycling. In most areas, batteries may be taken to the local landfill, where they are in turn taken to approve recycling centers. In some cases, battery manufacturers provide guidelines for battery disposal through local distributors, and may in fact recycle batteries themselves. Under no circumstances should a battery be disposed of in landfills, or the electrolyte allowed seeping into the ground, or the battery burned.

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